Even after 16 world championships and picking up his 150th (and 151st) win this season, John Force remains as motivated as ever to accomplish more in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. With another championship in sight heading to this weekend’s 34th annual AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals at Texas Motorplex, Force is hopeful for another Dallas triumph.
He has seven in his legendary career, but another victory at the facility, this time to start the second half of six-race Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship would be welcome. Force is currently third in points, 79 points behind John Force Racing teammate Robert Hight, and a win in his 11,000-horsepower PEAK Coolant and Motor Oil / BlueDEF Chevy Camaro SS might be necessary to keep those title hopes alive.
“Racing is what I love to do,” Force said. “I’m trying to fight the old man (in me) every day. You know, I started hearing, ‘you’re 70, this thing is over,’ and it’s really true what they say, it’s how bad you want it. When I get in that car, I’m alive again. It’s like my heart starts working and everything is good. So, don’t let anybody tell you that you’re too old. Get up and stay alive and keep moving. Someday I’ve got to go out that door, but before I do, I’d like to win at the Motorplex and maybe win another championship.”
Steve Torrence (Top Fuel), Robert Hight (Funny Car), Tanner Gray (Pro Stock) and LE Tonglet (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were last year’s winners of the event that will be televised on FOX Sports 1 (FS1) in 2019, including live final eliminations coverage 2:00 p.m. (ET) on Sunday, Oct. 20. It is the fourth of six playoff races and 22nd of 24 races during a 2019 NHRA season that has seen Force come on strong after some early bumps.
Working with crew chiefs Brian Corradi and Dan Hood, Force has become a model of consistency lately, winning his historic 150th race in Seattle and following with a victory at Indy. He opened the playoffs with a final-round appearance and qualified No. 1 in St. Louis before an early exit, and Force remains driven to succeed. Hight and Jack Beckman, who beat Force in the Reading final, are ahead of him, but the iconic veteran knows he as a car capable of winning.
“I put a complete new operation together with Brian Corradi and Dan Hood and it was a learning curve,” Force said. “I’m excited and we’re ready to go. We just found some things in the car we had to fixed, and it came around fast. I’m excited to be in the Countdown and we’ve got a fast car and a great team. We’ve got a shot at the title, but there’s a lot of good competition. If I have a car that can go down the track every run, we’ve got a chance.”
That’s all Force can ask for, but trying to track down Hight will be tough, especially after he won in Charlotte. He’s also championship-tested, as is a dynamic group of standouts in Funny Car, including Ron Capps, who sits just 11 points back of Force, Bob Tasca III, Matt Hagan, defending world champ J.R. Todd, Tommy Johnson Jr. and St. Louis winner Shawn Langdon. Force has worked hard to stay a contender in the loaded class, but he admits the work isn’t done yet.
“I’m not where I want to be in points,” Force said. “I’m in third and I was in second. I lost a few points so I’ve got to do a better job. Have to do a better job on the tree and I’ll be working on that this week.”